Monday, February 27, 2012

Act of Valor

Sad new Cappy Cappites.

I sat through about 40 minutes of "Act of Valor" and cannot lie - I walked out of the movie.

No disrespect to the fine veterans who starred in the film, I certainly do appreciate what they've done for the country, not to mention the time they spent pursuing something that is not their profession, but the movie was just not my cup of tea.

To be fair, I am not the most patient person as you all know. I am also not the touchy feely type, so again, my judgment is biased. So keep in mind this review is just my humble opinion and if you are the patient, touchy feely type, you may like this movie. But there are some major drawbacks to this film.

First, I'm willing to cut the vets some slack in that they're not actors. But it was still painful for them to read their scripts. I don't believe this was their fault in I believe the director should have just filmed these guys in their natural habitat, hanging out at the local bar as they would in the real world, almost a documentary or reality type show. It would have been much more natural and real. I don't want to see Navy SEALs acting, I want to see Navy SEALs being normal Navy SEALs. Even if it isn't perfectly cinematic.

Unfortunately they force this squeaky clean American pie theme and script that was just so fake. It's "Miller Time" at the bar, there's a bonfire and surfing at the beach with the family, the kids and the spouses are all perfect. There was a glimmer of hope when they mention one of the SEALs who came from Trinidad dirt poor, was a Muay Thai fighter and became a SEAL, and I was like "alright! Tell me more about this guy!" But then they quickly go back to the Perfect-Happy-Fun Family theme. I left the moment once one of the SEALs was saying good-bye to his wife and then bends down to talk to the belly of his wife (because she is pregnant). That was the HUGE snowflake that caused the avalanche and I bolted.

Again, I'm not the touchy feely type.

Second, one of the SEALs is reading letters or "sayings" or something from his father that are interspersed with a spotty subplot going on in the Philippines and Costa Rica. It's touchy feely stuff, no doubt thoughtful and true, but too much touchy feely. I didn't even understand half of what was said as it was almost poetic. It ruined the movie and also created a very jarring effect where we go back and forth from the "picturesque American life" to people getting killed in Costa Rica and back to soothing poetic readings with waves crashing on the beach back to a bus blowing up.

Third, the sheer time spent on developing the background that yes, these are real human beings with real families. These are not just automotonic drones programmed to kill. They are real men and women making real sacrifices. I get that, and agree that this would have to be part of the movie. But not half of the movie. I was already running out of patience with "Man on Fire" in how long it took to develop the relationship between Creasy and the little girl. "Act of Valor" may have actually spent less time on "family development," but it was so painful it felt about three times as long. At least Creasy was teaching the kid how to swim. At least he was an alcoholic. Something slightly entertaining or character developing was going on. Act of Valor was about 40 minutes of watching family videos. Again, I'm not a patient man.

What happened afterwards, I don't know, but I do know I can Netflix it and fast-forward through the first half, essentially turning it into a one hour action flick, or at least I hope the plot thickens and there's some action.

In short, I recommend not wasting your time and money seeing this move in the theater. If you are the touchy feely type and have more patience than the Captain, then maybe Netflix/Redbox it, but I have a hard time rationalizing expending the resources to drive, park, pay and watch this in the theater. OR, perhaps you could use "Man on Fire" or even "Heat" as proxies as to how much "touchy feely" you can tolerate in a movie before you start demanding action. "Man on Fire" redeemed the first part of the movie with the action and plot that followed. "Heat" was "barely" tolerable to me with the amount of interpersonal crap I had to tolerate to see Pacino and DeNiro duke it out with fully-automatic weapons. So if you really liked "Heat" and thought the interpersonal stuff improved the movie, you'll probably want to see this in the theater.

If not, again, benefit from the Captain's experience and save yourself some time and money.

PS- I forgot to mention there was an acoustic guitar on the beach. And you all know how much I associate acoustic guitars with communism.


Zorro said...

"touchy feely" used seven times.

Anonymous said...

Captain, there are two things I disagree with you about:
1. Vasectomy
2. This review

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen the movie, won't see it in the theater (or any other movie in the theater), but I served with Seals, and knew Seals for many years. I knew very few clean cut ones, put a few stinking drunk ones in jail cells (they always got out) and I always had deep respect for every one of them.
I don't know what it's like since they expanded the force, and the service became all touchy feely, but back in the day...

Captain Capitalism said...

It couldn't have been the real life of these SEALs. Though, yes, I can see them more or less getting out of everything.

Grit said...

Straight up. The enemies motive was to detonate a couple of isolated suicide vests packed with ball bearings? Please; Hardly a motive strong enough to drive a movie. It's not even a WMD. but I guess a biological attack which could kill half the country is too horrific to portray. It felt like some kind of New Age propaganda.

Captain Capitalism said...

OK, wait, let me get this. The "bad guys" are going to detonate "suicide vests" and we're going to scramble a SEAL team for that??

Wow, I am glad I left after 40 minutes.

It's really more of a disgrace to the SEALs who starred in the movie.

Alex VanderWoude said...

Just saw it last night, and I thought it wasn't bad. If you would've stuck around just two more minutes, Cap'n, you would have seen the Costa Rica extraction sequence, which was featured in the trailer, and from then on it was pretty much all action.

Re the suicide vests: as I understood it, this lot was the pebble that starts the avalanche, and so needed to be nipped in the bud (apologies for the mixed metaphors).

One thing that struck me as both amusing and kind of cool was the use of POV, which made it seem like I was playing Far Cry or something.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, and appreciated the simple, straight-forward, white hats versus black hats plot. There wasn't any angst about how maybe we deserved to be slaughtered by the bad guys because we'd been mean to them or whatever, which I found refreshing. And the film makers did not whitewash the consequences of doing such dangerous work, which I also appreciated.

Captain, you may have recouped some of your losses had you cultivated just a little more patience. Alas, you not only totally wasted your time but got nothing for your money either.